Monday, June 17, 2013

Krakow, and Likely Europe, Can't Seem to Accommodate My Drinking Habits

Not based on principle, or for the most part price, but merely taste preference, at any non-breakfast meal I eat in a restaurant, I do not order beer, wine, cocktails, hard liquor or coffee.

I order Diet Coke.

In Krakow, the selection is Coke Zero. Elsewhere in Europe, they seem to have Coca-Cola Light. Or sometimes diet Peai products.

Any of these are fine.

Problem is, in the three restaurants and two jazz clubs I've been in during my first two days in Krakow--which I've found to be absolutely marvelous--haven't served Coke Zero (or presumably any soft drinks) from a tap, but rather in 200 ml bottles (rougly 10 oz.).

Particularly when very thirsty and no tap water is served, I can drink one these (on ice, but only when I've requested it) in a single gulp.

On a day when I visited Auschwitz, I am really not complaining about having to pay about $2-$3 for "Diet Coke" in much smaller quantity than I can get more of for less back home.

20 years ago, before my first trip to Europe, I had heard that wine is cheaper than Coke, and while not exactly true, a cheap glass of wine runs about the same as a small bottle of Coke Zero.

The problem is, the waitresses--clearly unaccustomed to my mass, Mayor Bloomberg vexing consumption of Diet Coke--haven't been very attentive or cooperative to keeping me properly satiated.

Take tonight, when I dined at Miod Malina, a restauant a few feet from my hotel that was recommended by Rick Steves (or in another travel source).

I ordered a Coke Zero and basically had downed the 200 ml by the time my appetizer--melted gorgonzola cheese and apples on bread with some type of jelly; delicious--arrived.

My waitress was lax in checking on me, so when she did, I asked her to bring me 2 more bottles of Coke Zero.

But before she did, my entree arrived. Spare ribs with a thick plum sauce, and I also got dumplings that approximate gnocci. I nearly burned my tongue on one of these, but had no beverage handy.

When my soda did arrive, it was one bottle of regular Coke, with no fresh ice. I told the waitress I wanted Coke Zero and 2 of them at that, with ice (she seemed to understand and speak English, and I used my fingers to illustrate 2).

I got one bottle, and still no ice. I downed it and would've liked the third bottle, but it arrived rather latently.

Anyway, you get the point. 

Obviously, there are innumerable things immeasurably worse but I'm having trouble getting my Diet Coke fix.

Nonetheless, Kraków remains one of the most magnificent places I've ever been. It's not ornately resplendent like I expect Vienna to be, but is astonishingly beautiful and, perhaps more importantly, comfortable.

I've had great dinners at Farina and Miod Malina, heard excellent jazz at Harris Piano Jazz Bar and U Muniaka, saw an absolutely job dropping church in St. Mary's and another great one in St. Francis, visited Auschwitz (see my other post from today), walked up Castle Hill to see Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral, and tomorrow expect to see the Oskar Schindler factory and Kazimierz, Kraków's former Jewish district.

But really what has been most awesome has just been walking around; seeing the beautiful buildings, walking by the river today, and really just enjoying a warm, welcoming city.

I check out of the hotel in the morning as tomorrow night I will be taking an overnight train from Kraków to Vienna. 

So it's possible I may not be able to post another recap until Wednesday night, after my first full day in Vienna. Until then enjoy every sandwich.

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